During the company’s earnings call yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk found something to say against neighbor tech company Apple. While the two companies are not direct competitors, the landscape might shift very soon that will make them bitter rivals.
Apple Reportedly Poached Tesla Employees
Officially, the two companies are not rivals competing for the same market share. Apple sells gadgets like mobile phones, computers, and other tech devices. Tesla is in the business of manufacturing electric vehicles. However, Apple is reportedly working on the “Titan” project, which aims to produce an electric self-driving vehicle.
In the process, Apple managed to poach many engineers and executives from Tesla. Doug Field, an executive who returned to Apple in 2018 after five years at Tesla, is reportedly handling Project Titan.
Cobalt Used In Batteries
While discussing Tesla’s supply chain, Musk mentioned a common misconception that Tesla uses cobalt in its batteries. The production of lithium-ion batteries used for smartphones and electric cars requires cobalt.
“Apple uses I think almost 100% cobalt in their batteries and cell phones and laptops, but Tesla uses no cobalt in the iron-phosphate packs, and almost none in the nickel-based chemistries,” Musk said. He added that on a weighted average basis, Apple uses 100% cobalt while Tesla only requires 2%. Anyway, so it’s just really not a factor,” he added.
In particular, cobalt is one of the so-called conflict minerals. Most of the world’s supplies are mined from places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country is allegedly a haven for child labor and unsafe working conditions.
Both Tesla and Apple were included as defendants in a human rights lawsuit against cobalt mining in 2019. Apple said it voluntarily publishes a list of all conflict minerals and cobalt smelters and refiners it works with. In addition, the company said all of Apple’s cobalt suppliers participated in audits in 2020.
Tesla CEO Calls Out Walled Garden
In addition to cobalt use, Musk also took a swipe at Apple’s “walled garden”. Allegedly, Apple needs to control what software ends up in Apple’s App Store. However, Apple’s walled garden approach is now facing inquiries from antitrust regulators.
Last year, Epic Games sued Apple over its fees and policies while their games were on sale at the App Store.
Asked about its policy on sharing its charging stations, Musk took a dig at Apple’s walled garden. “I think we do want to emphasize that our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy.
It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors which are used by some companies,” he said. Then, Musk faked a cough while he said, “Apple!”
Watch the Tesla Daily video on Tesla Earnings Call Takeaways:
Why is Tesla CEO Elon Musk calling out Apple? Is it because of their budding rivalry over electric vehicles? Or is it something much bigger?
Share with us what you think is going on in Elon Musk’s head about Apple. Drop your comments in the comments section below.